In light of the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus, the Bombay High Court has restricted the functioning of the Courts in the principal bench at Bombay as well as its benches functioning at Nagpur, Aurangabad and the High Court of Bombay at Goa to urgent matters only for a week commencing from March 16, 2020.
The notice issued on Saturday cites the Office Memorandum dated March 5 issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, the advisory issued by the Government of Maharashtra and yesterday's notification issued by Secretary General, Supreme Court of India as advisory cautioning against mass gathering. The notice states-
"It is appealed to all the Bar associations and the Advocates that they shall endeavor to restrict the entry of the litigants in the Court and only in cases where the presence is unavoidable, one person may be called"
Apart from the High Court, Acting Chief Justice BP Dharmadhikari has also issued directions to the subordinate courts at Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur and Ahmednagar. Some of the directions are as follows-
1. Courts should not insist on the presence of the parties unless it is unavoidable and take appropriate measures to regulate entry of the litigants and the general public in the Court Complex to avoid crowding.
2. The lawyers may advise their clients not to visit the Court unless their presence is directed by the Court or is unavoidable.
3. Till the present situation persists, no adverse/default orders be passed in matters where parties are found to be absent.
4. In criminal matters, the request for exemption from personal appearance of the accused be considered favourably.
5. The facility of video conferencing be put to optimum use for the purposes of recording of evidence.
6. Instead of physical production of undertrial prisoners from jails, facility of video conferencing be availed of.
7. It be ensured by all Principal Judges that sanitizers are available in their respective Court complexes for the visitors as well as the staff, particularly those manning windows where there is constant public dealing.
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